Kathy Goodman: OMG!!
I had faculty meetings Thursday morning in preparation for returning to school next week and couldn’t quite figure out how I could get from L.A. to Minnesota after my meetings in time for our 7 p.m. game against the Minnesota Lynx, so I decided to settle in with my computer and watch online. That proved to be a bit difficult.
I have a bad Internet connection at my house, and too many applications running on my computer, making downloading the LiveAccess feed problematic. Instead, as the game started and I was still trying to wrestle my computer into submission, I booted up the WNBA Center Court app on my BlackBerry to at least follow the score while I looked at online alternatives.
Ultimately, I ended up "watching" the game with my BlackBerry, toggling back and forth between the Center Court app and the text messages I was getting from my mother (who was watching the LiveAccess feed in Syracuse) and Penny Toler (who was watching the game live in Minnesota) and keeping an eye on my Internet browser updating the play-by-play in real time on the WNBA website. As the Sparks dug a deep hole in the first half, I might be forgiven for allowing my mind to wander a bit.
I reflected on the huge changes in how I had followed women’s basketball over the last two decades. When I followed the Stanford team in the early '90s, there was virtually no women’s basketball on television at all. You saw a game live or not at all. ESPN2 carried the women’s Final Four back in 1993, but it was not yet part of the basic cable package, so you had to search far and wide to find a sports bar that carried the channel AND was willing to turn on a women’s sporting event, even if a national championship were at stake.
Twenty years later, I was cursing my ISP for not providing an immediate crisp feed over my crummy Internet connection, while at the same time wishing I wasn’t seeing what I was seeing as Minnesota took what seemed like an insurmountable lead in the second quarter.
As the third quarter wrapped up, we just didn’t seem to be making much headway. We had slowly whittled away at Minnesota’s lead, from 13 at the end of the first quarter, to nine at the half, to six at the end of the third quarter, but we needed a serious run to make this work.
“Watching” the fourth quarter through a combination of Internet play-by-play and text messages from Penny proved to be one of the most suspenseful half-hours of my life. We battled back to get within two, but could never seem to get closer.
Finally, with 1:16 left, we made it a basketball game. DeLisha Milton-Jones hit a three-pointer that gave the us our first lead since the beginning of the first quarter. I was texting my excitement when Lindsay Whalen made a jumper, putting the Lynx back up. Then a shooting foul committed by the Lynx with 40.2 seconds left sent DeLisha to the line. I held my breath while Penny’s text arrived simultaneously with the play-by-play update -- DeLisha missed both free throws, leaving Minnesota up by one. DeLisha then fouled Whalen, sending her to the line for two shots. Again, simultaneous texts (this time from Penny and my mother) and play-by-play update, all reporting that Whalen had missed both of her free throws.
With 21.6 seconds left and down by one, we called a timeout. This is agony for the online follower. What was happening? Was the timeout over? Had play resumed and my computer crashed?
Then Tina Thompson, who had struggled to score all game, shooting just four of 14 up to that point, sank the go-ahead basket with just 4.3 seconds left in the game! Another eternity of dead Internet while the teams huddled for a timeout and I wondered if the game had ended without anyone telling me. All I wanted the play-by-play line to read was one more line: “End of 4th Quarter.” But instead, it announced that Ticha Penicheiro had been called for a foul on Whalen with 1.1 seconds left.
Whalen, who is a 90% free-throw shooter was not going to miss another two in a row, but I was hoping hard she would miss at least one to give us a chance at overtime. No such luck. Lynx up by one with 1.1 seconds left.
We called a timeout to advance the ball, but we were going to need a BIG shot to make it. Texts were flying in and out as we waited for the timeout to end. And then three things happened at the same time: Text from Penny: “Tina just scored!” Text from my mother: “WOW!!!” Play-by-play refreshed and calmly announced: “Thompson Jump Shot Made.”
I bolted off my couch and jumped around my living room, as I texted Penny and my mother the only thing I am thinking: “OMG!!!” Sparks win 78-77. We needed this game, and we got this game.
I am not taking any chances on the Internet on Saturday, though. I have booked my ticket to Tulsa!
-- Kathy Goodman, co-owner of the Sparks
Photo: Tina Thompson celebrates with teammates after making the winning shot during a game against the Minnesota Lynx in Minneapolis, Minnesota on Thursday. Credit: Kyndell Harkness / Minneapolis Star Tribune / MCT.